ERIC Number: ED345275
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Shaping the Portfolio Course: The Uses of Direct Assessment and the Portfolio as a Critical Thinking Tool.
Gruber, Loren C.
A composition teacher at Northwest Missouri State University completely redesigned the freshman composition course to include writing portfolios while meeting state requirements for direct assessment and allaying departmental fears. A unit on language history and a half-dozen literature selections were dropped in favor of timed, in-class essay writing assignments and analysis, discussion, and thought in peer groups. The teacher answered questions with questions, engaged in Socratic dialogues, and focused on students' thoughts by chalk-board brainstorming. Most students had not experienced the pressure of writing under a 50-minute deadline, and following completion of the timed essays the students and the teacher talked further about the need to develop a succinct thesis paragraph, concrete support for the argument, and a sound conclusion. Whether working on research papers, preparing for the timed essays, or writing about literature, class time was largely a series of workshops. After about a month of writing about literature, revising their essays, and learning they could think through problems, the students overcame their free-floating anxiety to the point of being ready to write the timed essay that would be assessed holistically by another faculty member. Their research papers and essays on literature gave them confidence in their analytical abilities; the first timed essay gave them confidence in their ability to analyze reading material and to develop an argument within 50 minutes' time. In a letter to the portfolio reader, one student noted that she benefited from receiving peer reaction to her work and learned to think more critically when reading and writing. (The student's letter is attached.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Northwest Missouri State University
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (43rd, Cincinnati, OH, March 19-21, 1992).